The Filmmaker’s Guide To The Interweb

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Kobi Shely
Back in the day (2008), I was a filmmaker who just finished his first full-length documentary. I wanted to tell the story of Apple, and what makes the company a cult-like global sensation.  I’ve been producing and directing films since 2000. Many of them were for broadcast TV channels around the world, some of them won prizes in film festivals.

As many independent filmmaker, I used to rely on public funding, which is more wide spread in in Europe compared to the US. Receiving $60,000-$100,000 for a movie just by preparing a written proposal and a short trailer can get your movie project started, but there are drawbacks: competition is fierce, and you have to abide by implicit tough rules regarding both your movie topic and the way you make it.

When I chose not to obey, the answer from film funds was always negative. There’s not much one can argue about when trying to define ‘artistic considerations’, even when you know that art is a personal choice.

Then in 2007 I decided produce a film about Apple fanatics, a DIY effort that I’ve put to the test. I wanted to make a movie I was passionate about. Finally, I produced MacHEADS totally independently from pre-production to distribution. Back in 2007 it was not the traditional route to skip film festivals and go straight to digital distribution. The stigma back than for going digital, was “straight to DVD” strategy, admitting you couldn’t find a distributor to buy your movie, not something every filmmaker wants to be associated with. iTunes movie service started only in 2008. We knew we could get more audience to see our movie the digital way, so we went for it, and we were right.

From my studio apartment I was marketing and distributing MacHREADS to the world. No film festival could have achieved the same buzz created on the Internet. At some point I made a decision not to apply to film festivals, paying $50 to a small film fest didn’t make any sense, and I knew the really important ones will most likely pass. We premiered the movie on iTunes and MacHEADS became number one in its category and number 8 at the 2009 top 50 documentaries. Hulu made 739,389 views (and still counting) And also became number one top movie in all categories/ Than the Netflix deals came and Snagfilms, and was finally broadcast on CNBC. My personal experience with digital distribution was quite a learning experience. A lot is unknown to filmmakers even today when data by many filmmakers who are sharing information with one another.

In the end MacHEADS success and failure depended on my marketing efforts. Had the film been on iTunes without me pushing the movie in every possible effort, it would have never gotten the same response. So if you like it or not, filmmakers today are their own distribution and marketing managers. This is where and why I went on an entrepreneur path and co founded video streaming service for indie filmmakers that will give filmmakers control over the digital distribution means and data, and get rewarded financially as they should have been in the first place. I wanted to offer the indie film community the best possible solution I can give them.

VOD portals are not new, today we have a whole range of them, Distrify Media who I have worked with and are absolute decimated to indie filmmakers, to Vimeo on demand, and VHX, he main problem with any indie sales platform is still discovery. Without marketing effectively your content won’t be discovered, doesn’t matter what platform you choose.

True, marketing niche content is challenging, but the audience is loyal and is happy to help by spreading the word. The second reason, which is totally emotional and therefore the strongest, is that I’m an indie filmmakers myself and simply love it.

The industry is in a dynamic process of technology change, and I’m always on the look out to incorporate new and exciting models.

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